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The number of hate crimes against Muslims has risen by more than 300 per cent following the attacks on Paris earlier this month.
Tell MAMA, a helpline which records such incidents, claims to have recorded 115 Islamophobic incidents in the UK compared with 42 for the same period. However, they believe the actual number may be much higher as it’s suspected many victims may be too scared to contact police or support groups.
Women dressed in traditional Islamic attire have proved to be the most likely targets of such attacks and the perpetrators have mostly been white males aged between 15 and 35. A large number of the reported attacks took place in public places and some victims were children.
According to the report, many victims claimed that no one went to help them or even comforted them after the harassment had taken place. This left many feeling embarrassed, angry and alone.
In one reported case on a London tube, a woman wearing a hijab was abused by a man who accused ‘her people’ of murdering the victims of the Paris attacks. Another case told how a mother withdrew her young daughter out of school, claiming anti-Islamic bullying had intensified in the wake of the Paris attacks.
It’s not only British Muslims who are suffering, reports of harassment and abuse have been widespread across the West. In New York, the number of Muslim hate crimes have surged since the Paris attacks, with numerous mosques and Islamic centres reporting vandalism and threats. Muslims have also been harassed and attacked on the street.
Reporter, Kirk Semple writes in the New York Times that many Muslims have offered one another advice and warnings in order to stay safe. He says: “When in the subway, stand away from the platform edge, preferably with your back against a wall. Walk in groups after dark. Stay alert at all times.”
Sadyia Khalique, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations says: “We’ve never seen so much backlash against the Muslim community since the September 11th attacks. I’m frightened.”
Student, Ferida Osman told how she was spat on by a strangers as she waited for a train. “It feels like everybody’s staring like you’re on stage and you’re scared to do anything wrong,” she said.
In Oslo, a 21-year-old man was reportedly stabbed. His attacker asked him if he was a Muslim before pulling out a knife and stabbing him. As the victim lay on the ground, the attacker asked him “Do you remember Paris?”
While the Paris attacks appear to be the primary motivator for these recent hate crimes, it could be argued that without the general anti-Muslim rhetoric that often fills the media, people would be less likely to blame Muslims for terrorists’ actions. The overwhelming number of negative news stories surrounding immigration over recent months seems to have perpetuated negative stereotypes while increasing unnecessary and unreasonable hostility towards Muslims.
There has been some evidence of the general public helping Muslims who have fallen victims to abuse and harassment. Earlier this week, 23-year-old Ruhi Rahman from Newcastle thanked the strangers who supported her after she was abused by a man on a train. A passenger ordered her to get off her seat and said she doesn’t deserve to be here. Reassuringly, fellow passengers came to her aid. Ruhi said: “They just made it clear he had to leave. I’d never seen anything like it. I have never felt more proud of being a Geordie. It was lovely that everyone came together to help us and I can’t thank them all enough.” Many have also taken to Twitter to support Muslims and condemn the hate crimes against Islam.